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BLIZZARD SETS 8TH SEASON

Buffalo Blizzard fans who have yearned for more games against the archrival Cleveland Crunch will get their wishes fulfilled during the new National Professional Soccer League season. And how!

After meeting only twice a year during the last three seasons, the Blizzard and defending NPSL champions will clash eight times -- four in each city -- during the 1999-2000 campaign.

The games will also be more meaningful since realignment puts the teams in the same division for the first time in four seasons. The Lake Erie rivalry began in 1992-93, when Cleveland began four consecutive years of knocking Buffalo out of the playoffs in the first round.

The Blizzard's eighth season begins Oct. 30 at the Harrisburg Heat. The first of 22 home games is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 5, at Marine Midland Arena against the Montreal Impact, which joins Buffalo and Cleveland in the Central Division.

"Returning to the Central Division with Cleveland gives us a chance to go head-to-head with the reigning NPSL champions," general manager Mike Ferguson said. "It opens a lot of opportunities not only on but off the field as well. It stimulates a marketing partnership between the two cities."

The NPSL has cut one franchise (the Florida ThunderCats) and expanded the schedule for the remaining 12 teams from 40 to 44 games.

Individual game tickets go on sale in early October. Season-ticket packages can be purchased now by calling 855-4400.

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